Difference Between Testamentary Trusts and Inter Vivos (Living) Trusts

This post should help you understand the difference between a testamentary trust and an inter vivos trust.

All trusts are either testamentary or inter vivos. Inter vivos trusts are also called "Living Trusts."

The best way to describe the difference is to put them in context of a real-life situation.

Let's say Jack is engaged in his estate planning. He is married to Jill and he has two children. He wants to leave his estate in a way so that Jill is taken care of, but after Jill dies, he wants his estate to go to his two children.

Jack goes to an attorney and the attorney prepares a Will with Testamentary Trust. The terms of the trust are a part of Jack's last will and testament. Jack's will says that when Jack dies, Jack's estate will go to the "Jack Testamentary Trust." 

After Jack dies, Jill and Jack's kids assume that no probate is necessary because "Jack had a trust." However, their assumption is incorrect. There will always be a probate (or in Louisiana called a "Succession") when someone leaves their assets or estate to a testamentary trust. When Jack dies with a testamentary trust, his assets that are in his name when he dies will be frozen, and the courts must oversee the management and ultimate transfer of the assets to the trust.

Now, instead, let's say that, instead of Jack creating a testamentary trust, he creates the stand-alone "Jack Inter Vivos Trust" or the "Jack Living Trust," If Jack transfers his asset to the Jack Living Trust during his lifetime, no Succession or Probate will be necessary when Jack dies because the assets will already be in the trust and there will be no assets in Jack's name that would be frozen and subject to the court-supervised transfer process.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

Paul Rabalais
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450